State of emergency in Egyptian cities following new violence | News | DW | 27.01.2013
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State of emergency in Egyptian cities following new violence

President Mohammed Morsi has declared a state of emergency in three Egyptian cities after new violence. At least six people were killed and hundreds injured in the canal city of Port Said during clashes with police.

In a televised address Sunday evening, Morsi declared a state of emergency in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia. The three cities will have a curfew imposed "for 30 days starting at midnight (2200 GMT Sunday)" the president said.

"I find the nation facing dangers, I will have to take stricter measures. This is my duty," said Morsi.

The president also invited Egypt's opposition forces to a dialogue starting on Monday.

Unrest in Port Said

Crowds tried to storm three police stations Sunday and others torched an army social club, looting items inside, security officials said.

One of victims was an 18-year-old male who died of gunshot wounds to the chest Port Said's head of hospitals, Abdel Rahman Farag, told the Reuters news agency.

Hundreds were injured, including 429 who suffered from tear gas inhalation and another 38 wounded by gunshots, said Farag.

The military has been deployed in Port Said and the nearby canal city of Suez to help restore calm and protect vital public buildings.

Thousands had gathered in Port Said for the funerals of those killed during earlier clashes on Saturday, with many chanting against President Mohammed Morsi.

"Our city is being hit by the interior ministry!" and "Down with the Brotherhood rule!" people chanted, referencing the Islamist group that backs Morsi.

Saturday violence

On Saturday, 31 people were killed and around 300 injured in Port Said when policeman clashed with protesters. The violence followed a Cairo court ruling sentencing 21 people to death for their roles in the deadly violence last year at Port Said Stadium.

In February 2012, 74 people were killed and hundreds more injured during clashes at a game between local football club al-Masry and Cairo club al-Ahly. Another 52 defendants are being tried over the violence, which many believe was orchestrated by police or supporters of former President Hosni Mubarak.

The al-Ahly club and its 'ultras' faction of fans played a key role in the protests that ousted Mubarak two years ago.

All fatalities during Saturday's clashes in Port Said were due to gunfire, medical officials told the AFP news agency.

There was no police presence in Port Said Sunday, and shops remained closed for a second day.

Al-Masry fans and families of the defendants said the case was politically motivated - with no police or al-Ahly supporters sentenced on Saturday.

A restless week

The weekend clashes followed a day of rioting in Suez and deadly protests in Cairo against Morsi.

At least eight people were killed during fighting in Suez Friday. Protesters stormed four police stations, freed 25 detainees and seized weapons, security sources said.

Meanwhile, the violence in Cairo extended into Sunday, with police firing teargas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in the vicinity of Tahrir Square - the epicenter of the 2011 revolution.

The protesters accuse Morsi of betraying the democratic goals established during the revolution.

The British and US embassies, both near Tahrir Square, were closed for public business on Sunday.

Political tension

The recent unrest across Egypt highlights the political divide in the country. The opposition has threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections if Morsi does not find a "comprehensive solution" to the unrest.

The National Salvation Front, the main coalition of opposition parties who oppose Egypt's ruling Islamist government, said they would "not participate" in the polls unless a "national salvation" government was formed.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed "great concern" over the violence and urged authorities to "restore calm and order," appealing for restraint from both sides.

dr/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)